BackgroundThe aim of this paper is to illustrate a simple method for increasing the range of possible options for reducing adverse events in Australian hospitals, which could have been, but was not, adopted in the wake of the landmark 1995 'Quality in Australian Health Care' study, and to report the suggestions and the estimated lapse time before they would impact upon mortality and morbidity.MethodThe study used a modified Delphi technique that first elicited options for reducing adverse events from an invited panel selected on the basis of their knowledge of the area of adverse events and quality assurance. Initial suggestions were collated and returned to them for re-consideration and comment.ResultsCompleted responses from both stages were obtained from 20 of those initially approached. Forty-one options for reducing AEs were identified with an average lapse time of 3.5 years. Hospital regulation had the least delay (2.4 years) and out of hospital information the greatest (6.4 years).ConclusionFollowing identification of the magnitude of the problem of adverse events in the 'Quality in Australian Health Care' study a more rapid and broad ranging response was possible than occurred. Apparently viable options for reducing adverse events and associated mortality and morbidity remain unexploited.